February 20, 2014 | Armistead News
Work to improve the play facilities at a specialist residential outdoor education centre in south Cumbria is on the upswing thanks to a four-figure grant from a renewable energy developer.
The Bendrigg Trust in Old Hutton works with groups of disabled and disadvantaged people from right across the UK, and aims to promote independence, encourage inclusion and build self-confidence through tailor-made education programmes.
The Trust, which was set up in 1978, has been working to reclaim and landscape the site’s lower field, so that it could increase the number and scope of the activities it offers. Funding received in 2011 has enabled the completion of landscaping work, which will allow new playground equipment and accessible paths to be installed.
Part of this ‘Aiming High’ project has entailed the creation of a fully inclusive play space which is accessible to both disabled and able-bodied users, and suitable for bikes, trikes, pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Fundraising work to cover the purchase and installation of new play equipment in the field began recently – and now, after receiving a £5,000 grant from Banks Renewables, via its Banks Community Fund, the Trust is set to install a new children’s basket swing, which will be specially modified to enable wheelchair users to get into and use it.
The Bendrigg Trust is a 60-bed residential centre which accommodates over 5,000 visitors every year, a figure which is expected to rise over the coming years.
It is run by a team of 24 staff and more than 130 volunteers, and is one of very few providers of such comprehensive outdoor educational facilities anywhere in the UK.
Trust founder and chief executive Trevor Clarke says: “Our hillside location comes in very useful for installations such as zip wires and tube slides, but having the flatter land that the Aiming High field now offers is opening up a number of new opportunities for us that are extending what we can do even further.
“Equipping these new facilities as well as we can is obviously a key objective for the project, and we’re certain that the basket swing that this grant will pay for will be a big hit with all of our younger visitors.
“In the present climate, there are a lot of very worthy charitable organisations competing for an often diminishing amount of funding, which can make finding the funds we need to realise our plans a real challenge, and which makes the generous support we’ve received from Banks Renewables for this project especially valuable.
“While we work with people from right across the UK, the Aiming High field has been particularly designed with the needs and interests of local groups in mind, and we’re very much encouraging them to get in touch and make use of it on a very regular basis.”
Banks Renewables is the company behind the Armistead wind farm that has been built on land near to Old Hutton, and it is also looking to develop the proposed Killington wind farm, which would be situated on land between the A684 Sedbergh Road and Junction 37 of the M6, and the planning application for which was approved by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee in January.
In addition to the Banks Community Fund, the Armistead Wind Farm Community Fund will provide up to £307,500 of community funding from the revenue of the Armistead Wind Farm over its 25-year lifespan to help make a positive, long-term difference to local voluntary groups, environmental projects and community facilities in the area.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, adds: “The staff and volunteers at the Bendrigg Trust provide an inspirational environment in which people of all ages and abilities can enjoy themselves, try new activities and achieve things that they perhaps thought they’d never do.
“The Aiming High field encapsulates everything that the Trust stands for, and we’re extremely pleased to be able to help such a valuable charitable organisation.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks’ Armistead Wind Farm that are looking for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.